Overview: Interdisciplinary Radio Astronomy

The project will create a syllabus/teaching kit about radio astronomy with multidisciplinary characteristics useful for teaching of electronics, signal processing and astronomy to undergrad University level, based on SDR (Software Defined Radio). Radio astronomy is a technical field of astronomy with advanced electronic & signal processing techniques. Typical Radio-astronomy syllabi and existing teaching kits focus on hardware electronics with significant limitations in teaching as students cannot modify hardware. Our project focuses on making a SDR teaching kit which dramatically increases the possibility of hands-on engagement in the construction and operation of a Radio Telescope. SDR’s implement typical hardware receiver components (filters, amplifiers etc.) with software components, fully programmed or modified. The “heart” of the system is a sophisticated but affordable SDR receiver with a frequency of up to 6 GHz & programmable FPGA-based hardware controlled by open-source software GNU Radio which provides a framework for students to perform signal processing(ranging from demodulation to FFT) extended with user code in C++ or Python. By programming the FPGA hardware, users can alter receiver characteristics appropriate for each target. The main idea of the teaching kit is based on the chain of knowledge Astronomy Electronics Signal processing. Physical characteristics of the targeted transmission are studied based on astronomical knowledge for the transmitting body. Then the appropriate electronic of the received are studied based on expected characteristics (frequency, strength etc.) and then appropriate signal processing algorithms are used to analyze the signal. This “chain” will keep students involved in all process of receiving & interpreting signals but also allow them to develop multidisciplinary skills. High motivation of participating students is accomplished with extremely interesting observations such as Hydrogen line, Pulsar & Sun emission.

Contact: Nadia Bali, nadia@nbali.gr